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Kettle Corn with Caramelized Cashews

Servings: 2 popcorn-loving adults
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef

Ingredients

For the Cashews:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Kettle Corn:

  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • cup popcorn
  • cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Make the Cashews. Lay a square piece of parchment paper on the kitchen counter.
  • Put a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the cashews and toast, stirring frequently, until the cashews start to brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Pour the cashews onto the parchment paper and set aside to cool.
  • Return the skillet to the burner and reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle the sugar evenly into the bottom of the hot skillet. Heat the sugar, without stirring, until it has all melted, 4-5 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it at the end, as it will start to burn just moments after it has all melted.) Pour the cashews and cinnamon into the pan and stir vigourously until all of the cashews are evenly coated in sugar. Scrape the sticky cashews onto the parchment paper. Allow the cashews to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  • When the cashews are completely cool, use your hands to break them apart into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  • Make the kettle corn. Pour the oil into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add three popcorn kernels to the oil and place the pan over medium-high heat (do not put the lid on the pot yet). When one kernel pops (the signal that the oil is hot enough), immediately pour the remaining kernels into the pan and put the lid on the pot. Take the pan off the heat for 30 seconds. (Literally, count to 30.)
  • Put the pot back over the heat and pour the sugar on top of the kernels. Hold the lid on the pot so that it is slightly ajar (you just want a small space to be open so that steam, but not popcorn can escape). Vigourously swirl the pan so that the sugar evenly coats the kernels.
  • With the pot over medium-high heat and the lid held slightly ajar (see the picture below), gently shake the pot every few seconds until nearly all of the kernels have popped and there is a 2 second break between “pops”. Quickly pour the kettle corn into a bowl (the sugar will still be very hot, so any kernels that remain in the pot will burn). Allow the popcorn to cool slightly before tossing it with your hands to break it apart.
  • Gently toss together the kettle corn and the caramelized cashews and serve.

Notes

Caramelized Cashews adapted slightly from The Freshman Cook.